Smith: Former Analy High soccer star prepares for surgery that will stop her heart cold

PD columnist Chris Smith shares Olivia Weber’s chance to get her life back, a big grant to envisioned east Santa Rosa greenway, and more.|

Olivia Weber welcomes prayers and good thoughts as the 2008 graduate of Sebastopol’s Analy High nears a surgical procedure nearly out of science fiction.

At 26, Olivia, once a standout soccer player, contemplates the Sept. 7 operation at UC San Diego Medical Center that will require she be placed into full cardiac arrest and her body cooled to below 68 degrees.

For up to an hour, her blood circulation and brain function will cease. The surgical team will use that time to remove the blood clots that have formed in Olivia’s heart, lungs and pulmonary arteries.

Said her mother and ferocious advocate, Helen Weber, “Olivia is hanging in, but we’re both fearful.” The surgery, called a pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, is risky in the extreme but it also looks to be the one thing that could give Olivia back her life.

She has endured pain and frequent hospitalization since strange maladies struck in her freshman year, 2009, at UC Santa Cruz. Perhaps you’ll recall that through a large chunk of 2015 and 2016, her mother drove her on a search for answers that took them to some of the nation’s best research hospitals.

Olivia still doesn’t have a firm diagnosis, but the clots that could take her life have been fully plotted and a strategy for removing them well-planned.

Grateful for the assistance she and her daughter have received, Helen, who’s been unable to work during the medical odyssey, said, “This lifesaving surgery is far away from home and we seek help.”

Helen has updated her daughter’s situation at the GoFundMe page where people have supported them throughout the ordeal. The page is at

“Words fail us in saying thanks to so many for caring so much,” Helen said as she prepares to take Olivia to San Diego. “Despite everything, we feel so blessed.”


THAT SWATH OF LAND in east Santa Rosa once intended to move Highway 12 traffic onto a bridge over Spring Lake suddenly is $250,000 closer to being upgraded into a source of community pride.

Community Foundation Sonoma County has granted a quarter of a million bucks to Sonoma Land Trust and the vision for transforming 47 acres of the bare swath parallel to Hoen Avenue into a greenway with pedestrian and cycling paths, art installations, pocket parks, natural restoration areas and spaces for gatherings and education and such.

Another 9 acres is set aside for residential and commercial development.

The grant money came from an $8.5 million bequest from Hazel and Roland Todd of Glen Ellen, whose gift has done tremendous good throughout Sonoma Valley and beyond.

Elizabeth Brown, who heads up the Community Foundation, creates a fine mental image when she alludes to the ribbon of earth between Farmers Lane and Spring Lake Regional Park becoming a “Central Park in the heart of Santa Rosa.”


ASTRONOMICAL DUD: What a bummer that a marine layer coated much of the North Coast on Monday and rained on our ecliptic parade.

But there was a shimmer of a silver lining to having clouds utterly obscure the American Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 through much of the region.

We didn’t risk burning our retinas and today we don’t have cricks in our necks, and how lucky that we could view the spectacle on our cellphones or in our imagination.

In Santa Rosa, Dr. Harry Richardson wondered out loud, “What’s the market for used eclipse glasses?”

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and

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